Wally Backman: Callback went well
ORLANDO, Fla. -- And now on to the deliberations.
The New York Mets completed the interview stage of their managerial search process Thursday afternoon when general manager Sandy Alderson and other team executives met with finalists Wally Backman and Terry Collins.
The other two finalists, Chip Hale and Bob Melvin, interviewed Wednesday.
"I'm confident we will be able to make a decision within the next several days. ... I do feel confident that among these four we'll find the next manager of the New York Mets," Alderson said.
Alderson will be in St. Petersburg, Fla., the next two days with grieving family members. He plans to attend a memorial service Saturday morning for his late father, John Alderson, who died last weekend after being struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian. Alderson said he will have a conference call with other team executives later in the weekend and reach a decision Sunday or Monday, with a news conference to introduce the new manager potentially coming as soon as Tuesday at Citi Field.
Backman, the favorite among the fans to become the next manager, emerged from his final-round interview Thursday afternoon expressing satisfaction with how the session with team officials went.
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"It went good. It went very good," said the 51-year-old Backman, who managed Class A Brooklyn in the Mets organization this past season, after five years without being employed by a major league team.
Backman, an infielder on the championship 1986 Mets who was known for his scrappiness, said he understood why he has overwhelming fan support.
"Well, I played there. I think it's great," Backman said. "The meeting went good. We talked a lot of baseball and it was a good meeting, a very good meeting."
Backman's first-round interview took place in San Diego and was conducted only by Alderson. The callback also included chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and Alderson deputies Paul DePodesta, J.P. Ricciardi and John Ricco.
"It was getting to know everybody," Backman said about the roughly 90-minute meeting. "It was not real long, but it was basically about baseball, staff, things like that."
As for Wilpon's involvement the past two days, Alderson said: "He's been a participant, but I think not any more than any of the others -- and perhaps less."
Backman had been hired as Diamondbacks manager for the 2005 season, but the decision was reversed four days later after past off-the-field transgressions came to light. Arizona instead turned to Melvin as its manager. Backman did not work for a major league organization for five years until the Mets brought him back as the organization's New York-Penn League manager for this past season.
The likelihood is Backman remains in the organization managing Class A St. Lucie or Double-A Binghamton. Yet Backman said his focus on Thursday was singular.
"I'm not even looking at that right now," Backman said about a promotion within the minors. "I was in there for one reason -- that was to manage the Mets."
Collins served as the organization's minor league field coordinator this past season, and feels that would be an asset as the team's major league manager.
"I think it helps," Collins said. "I think I know the kids a lot. We've got a good bunch of guys. I've got a great staff in the minor leagues. This organization has done itself very, very proud. They've drafted some good kids. They've signed some good, young players. And I enjoyed it a lot. The whole thing about getting to know our minor league system -- whether it's me or whoever it is -- I can certainly help whoever is going to manage this team, for sure."
Collins praised all four finalists, each of whom currently works for the organization.
"There are some good guys," he said. "Chip Hale played for me. I think the world of Chip. Bob Melvin has been very, very successful. And I think Wally Backman proved this year that he's -- if not this year -- going to be a very, very, very good major league manager. So you're in a great group. All you can do is say, 'Look, hey, I think I can help.' That's about all you can bring up."
The three finalists not chosen likely will remain with the organization. Asked if that creates potential awkwardness, Alderson said: "It's a potential concern. But I think it's incumbent upon us to make sure those issues don't arise and they're managed. I mean, people are going to be disappointed. But it's important for us that those that do remain with the organization feel that they're valued in whatever role they have."
Regardless, Alderson said, players won't have involvement in choosing the next manager.
"I'm not a big believer in consulting players," Alderson said. "It really can be a compromising process. I think that we've tried to anticipate how the players will respond, but to actually involve them in that way I think is not a good idea."
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